MIDDLETOWN >> Lacrosse has emerged as a popular spring sport for high school athletes and this season Middletown High will compete with first-year boys and girls club lacrosse teams.
Both the Blue Dragons boys and girls teams, which attracted 53 players, received a “First Stick Grant” from US Lacrosse. The grant outfitted 25 boys and girls for the first full season, plus 13 more next season, according to boys coach Justin Deegan.
The teams are not funded by the Board of Education, and that grant, plus individual and corporate donations means that both teams can play the full season without having to pay to play.
“Our goal this season is to develop a team that will compete and succeed at the high school level,” said Deegan. “We have 24 boys, a mix of kids who have played other sports and some who have played no sport until now. We practice just like any other sport and the kids are held to the same standards that are expected of any other varsity athlete at MHS.”
The boys first game is Monday, April 28 against Stafford Springs at Vinal Technical High School at 4:30 p.m.
The Middletown girls team has 29 players.
“My goals are pretty clear and simple,” said Blue Dragons girls coach Ann Buchanan. “I want to end the season with a team of girls who are comfortable with the rules of the game, who are unified as a team, have solid foundational skills, and who want to come back next year.
“Out of my 29 girls, only two have any stick time at all, so we are solidly a beginning team. I’m focusing on instruction and encouragement.
The girls team’s first game is April 28 against Jonathan Law at Vinal Tech.
The Xavier lacrosse team was 13-6 last spring, advancing to the quarterfinal round of both the SCC playoffs and the state tournament.
“We should be strong at the faceoff and on attack,” said Falcons ninth-year coach Scott Basile. “We have questions in the net and at the midfield. We should contend for a playoff spot.”
The Falcons key players are senior captain John Burkinshaw, senior Greg Onofrio, senior Nick Howard, sophomore Collin O’Donnell, junior Wes Reid and junior Jameson Keif.
Xavier, which has 18 varsity team members, opens April 9 at Simsbury.
Mercy hopes to follow up last year’s 11-5-1 season with another solid year.
“We will field a strong starting lineup,” said Tigers coach John Benchimol, who is in his fourth year. “We have a lot of young player potential.”
The Tigers key returning personnel include senior goalie Jessica Corcoran, senior defensive leader Michaela Tyrell, junior attacker Emma Bonassar and junior middie Danielle Richardson.
The key newcomers are junior attacker Casey Nelson and junior middie Olivia Oczyk.
Benchimol reported that his 19-member varsity will open the season April 9 at home with Sacred Heart Academy.